Australia – May 18, 2014 |
Australia is considered to be home to the fourth largest population of Hazaras in the world which is estimated to be over 50,000. Majority of these Hazaras have migrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran in pursuit of safe haven after fleeing persecution and discrimination in their homelands.
Hazaras’ migration to Australia can be divided into three phases. First phase being in 1999-2000 when Hazaras mostly from Afghanistan reached Australia by boat to seek asylum after being persecuted by Taliban regime. Second phase was in 2009-10 when Hazaras both from Afghanistan and Pakistan migrated to Australia as irregular maritime arrivals. The third and last phase of Hazaras influx to Australia was witnessed in 2012-13 when Hazara genocide was touching its peak in Pakistan. Apart from migration by boats, a number of Hazaras also came to Australia by plane as students, visitors, tourists and businessmen who later sought here protection due to threats to their lives in their native countries.
Hazaras who arrived in Australia fourteen years ago have now established them well in this country by working in various public and private sector organizations and opening up new businesses in different cities. Melbourne’s south east suburb of Dandenong is considered to be the largest Hazara enclave in Australia. Sydney houses the second largest population of Hazaras followed by Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Being unqualified and less-educated, Hazaras are mostly engaged in labour work in Australia. Nevertheless, some of them who are highly educated, do occupy covetous posts in various organizations.
Hazaras had earned a very good reputation in Australia as a diligent nation through their hard work in the beginning which gradually faded away as they started depending on the dole for their livelihood instead of working and playing their role in strengthening Australian economy. But, the successive Australian governments are equally responsible for this situation and promotion of the trend to rely on the living allowance as many a people who are drawing financial benefits from Centrelink are of the view that together with their families on the dole they get more money than by working five days a week from morning till evening. This loophole in the system still exists which needs to be addressed to get people off the dole.
Apart from being on the dole, Hazaras, however, have still a good reputation in other spheres of life. They are far away from criminal and anti-social activities and considered to be peaceful, docile, education-loving and law-abiding people unlike many other nationalities living in Australia. Nevertheless, like their fellow community people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Hazaras in Australia have also some negative qualities which have proved to be the main obstacles in their way to make rapid progress and earn fame as a nation. They can be described as under:
• Despite living in Australia for over a decade, Hazaras are still hesitant to mingle with other nationalities particularly locals. They have their own enclaves in all major cities and prefer to interact with members of their own community only. This is why most of them are still unaware of the Australian culture and traditions as well as unable to speak English fluently.
• Almost in every major cities, Hazaras are divided into a number groups formed on the basis of sect, taifa (sub-caste) and nationality. These groups are so antagonistic to one another that sometimes their differences even reach to the point of clash. They prefer to hold their own separate ceremonies and functions at different sites to celebrate and observe various events than to organize them jointly at a single place.
• There is no active central organization which could represent them as a whole nation. There is, however, one such organization by the name of Australian Hazara Federation but it is not as much active and effective as it should have been. Its performance regarding solution of the problems confronting Hazaras in Australia and highlighting Hazara genocide and persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran is almost nil.
• Hazaras are still unable to develop a collective thinking. They are all self-centred and only think about their own individual interests.
• Despite having a sizeable population, Hazaras have still no influence on federal politics and penetration in Australian media. They have never tried to develop special relationship with their area MPs and media personnel. They have never realized the importance of lobbying and power of their votes in Australian politics.
• They are least interested in playing their role to stop the persecution of their fellows in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran and paving way for their legal migration to Australia. Similarly, they are also not willing to play a role in mitigating the sufferings of the newly-arrived Hazara asylum seekers in Australia and those stuck in Indonesia.
• Like Pakistan and Afghanistan, Hazaras in Australia too are lacking in honest, sincere and true leadership. Hazaras have not yet produced any high-profile leaders in Australia who can convey and discuss their problems with the people at the helm of affairs and seek its solution.
• Hazaras are still unable to get themselves recognized as a nation that is why Australians identify them as Afghanis instead of Hazaras. There is no doubt that most of them have born in Afghanistan, but when there comes the issue of identity they should better be called Hazaras or Afghan Hazaras instead of Afghanis which alludes to another nationality namely Pashtuns.
Australian Hazaras must keep it in their mind that they are in the most advantageous position amongst all Hazaras in the world at the moment. While understanding their obligation to raise voice against persecution of Hazaras anywhere in the world, they need to take full benefit of this opportunity. They must not repeat the mistakes committed by their forefathers in Afghanistan and Pakistan which finally led to their ouster from their homelands. It is the demand of time they shun their petty differences, develop a collective thinking, forge unity among their ranks, and work with full dedication, to get themselves recognized as one of the most civilized and organized nation not only in Australia but in the entire world.